Avalanche: All Behind MacKinnon (Chronique de François Gagnon)

Like his Lightning counterpart, Jared Bednar gave his players a break from practice on Thursday.

The Avalanche head coach, happy with the first meeting, will urge his players to return on Saturday with the same performance and a very similar game plan. A game plan developed in part in light of information gleaned from overseeing the work of the Maple Leafs and Rangers against the Lightning early in the playoffs.

“Toronto and New York found success against Tampa and maintained a high level of speed and intensity on the ice. By attacking a lot. By taking lots of shots. We have the same dynamic style as the Leafs.

Conversely, the Leafs – who led the series 3-2 before losing in seven games – and the Rangers – who led the series 2-0 before suffering four straight losses – ran into trouble when they beat Lightning gave up control of the games. The Lightning have talented players, but we’ve found that they’re at their best when playing tight games. So we have a keen interest in maintaining the same rhythm that allowed us to set the tone at the start of the game yesterday (Wednesday),” Bednar explained.

We should therefore expect the Avalanche to maximize the pressure placed on the Lightning in Game 2.

Pressure will come from all players, starting with Nathan MacKinnon, who will be in charge again on Wednesday and will be in charge again on Saturday. Especially since Jared Bednar has already announced his intention to keep the same management of his star player.

Generous management – ​​24 appearances totaling 22 minutes and 6 seconds – that the Avalanche head coach doesn’t want to change in the slightest, simply removing Nathan MacKinnon from the confrontations dictated by the Blitz.

“You know ‘Nate’: he will never shy away from a challenge. And since Jon (Cooper) will be able to get the matchups he prefers once the series resumes in Tampa, we have an advantage in keeping Nathan on the ice regardless of opponent since it’s not in the interest of the team is to slow down the rhythm of our game to simply manage confrontations,” explained the Avalanche head coach.

healthy maturity

Bednar can afford to use MacKinnon extensively, of course because of his great talent, but also because the maturity acquired over the years allows him to better understand and better deal with the defensive strategies proposed to slow him down.

“Nathan is spearheading our attack. It is acquired. He sets the tone and the others follow. At the same time, he understands that the success of our team no longer depends solely on him. He therefore became a more complete player. Not only does he set the tone on offense, but he can now face very big challenges on defense when it comes time to take on the best elements of the opposing team,” added Jared Bednar.

On Tuesday’s big media day, Nathan MacKinnon brushed aside all media claims that he needed a Stanley Cup to secure his place in Avalanche and NHL history. His coach also doesn’t think his star player has to win the Stanley Cup to earn his place among the best players in history or history.

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“As a player or as a coach, it’s clear that you want to be champions; that you want to win the Stanley Cup. That’s what drives us since we’ve been playing ice hockey. If you look at everything Nathan does on the rink, he already has a place among the best. »

Jared Bednar didn’t say it. But that doesn’t stop us from writing that alongside all that he’s already doing well and very well, Nathan MacKinnon is only three wins away from winning a Stanley Cup that would be sure to cement his spot in the elite for always to keep.

Shoot extensively at Vasilevskiy

Nathan MacKinnon and the Avalanche players are on a mission to bomb the Lightning Web. According to Jared Bednar, they will continue to shoot into the enemy zone as much as possible, even though several (25) of the 69 released Wednesday night have been blocked on defense.

“I don’t care that their players were able to block so many shots. Maybe we should shoot faster to give their attackers and defenders less time to block the lines of fire. But what matters most to me is how we react after a shot is blocked. If you look at the goals we scored in Game 1, including the overtime win, they came after we regained control of the puck after a blocked defensive shot. »

The Avalanche have an interest in continuing to machine-gun Vasilevskiy. Because if the trend continues, the Lightning goalie will be much harder to slow down in the next few games than it was on Wednesday. Especially in the first phase, when he allowed three goals – in 15 shots – for the first time in 99 playoff games of his career.

In the first four games he’s played since the start of the playoffs, Vasilevskiy has won just one. He scored a generous 3.99 goals against average and an efficiency of just 88.4%.

In the other 14 games, the Lightning goalie lived up to his reputation as the best goalie in the world with a record of 11 wins and three losses, a feeble 1.9 goals allowed per game and a sensational efficiency of 93.9%.

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